A city oasis: Kempinski The Spa, at the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok
The Siam Kempinski Hotel in Bangkok is five years old, its 303 rooms and suites wrap around a huge courtyard almost entirely taken up by four saltwater swimming pools, shaded with large trees. It’s effectively a city resort, a glamorous oasis of tranquillity amid humid and chaotic Bangkok.
The Spa is on the seventh floor of the Garden Wing, and has eight large treatment rooms, including two couples’ suites and one Thai massage room. Just above on the eighth floor you’ll find the gym and Jacuzzi, both overlooking the Bangkok skyline, plus sauna and steam room.
The hotel in downtown Bangkok is European/Arabic rather than Asian in style, all marble columns, vast ceilings, statement plants and flowers, and huge, dramatic sculptures, flooded with natural and ornamental light. Its scale and opulence is designed to inspire a hushed awe.
Opposite the entrance, floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the impressive multiple swimming pools with islands of trees, grass and loungers. Two of the pools are long and deep enough for swimming lengths, while the other two are more leisurely and lagoon-like. The Cabana hotel rooms open onto the pool, so you can step from your balcony into the water. There is also a children’s pool.
The hotel restaurants range from posh-casual (champagne with your breakfast buffet, sweetie?) to award winning fine dining at Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, run by Henrik Anderssen from Denmark, the only Michelin Starred chef in Thailand. Rotunda serves light meals and drinks by the pools.
On the eighth floor of the Garden Wing is a good sized gym where you can work out while gazing over the hotel courtyard and Bangkok’s dramatic skyscrapers. Thermal facilities on the other side of the reception area include a sauna, steam roomand Jacuzzi.
Kempinski The Spa, the first in Asia and now five years old, is on the seventh floor and has a completely different feel to the rest of the creamy expanse of marble in the hotel. The reception area is decorated in plush warm purples, browns and creams, with hidden dim lighting and more traditional Thai patterned soft furnishings. Like the hotel, it’s tastefully luxurious with an atmosphere of confident calm.
The spa is managed by Swiss consultancy Resense Spas, who manage more than 60 spas around the world. Their expertise is in managing whole spa concepts, but have a real flair for delivering exceptional customer experiences -- this is apparent throughout the spa.
The reception desk is where you do your consultation, and although this was conducted warmly and professionally by two therapists (mine plus another to translate), I feel perhaps somewhere a little more private might have been better.
As well as the elegant standard treatment rooms there are two doubles with rose petal baths, and a large Thai massage room with two double mattresses on the floor. The post relaxation room is very Zen and stylish, decorated with huge round stones and flower, with comfy reclining chairs where you can doze or flick through some trendy expat magazines.
Kempinski The Spa’s treatments are based around the European seasons and use Elemental Herbology, a holistic UK brand inspired by the elements. There’s a mix of traditional Thai techniques, philosophy and therapists with a variety of influences from around the world – a true East/West fusion.
As I sipped my herbal tea, I began to overlook the season concept and focus on what the treatments offered. At first I felt like Summer just because I fancied trying the cold stone massage, but then quite liked the fact that Autumn was good for jet lag...
The therapist who spoke perfect English asked what I needed and determined my ‘seasonal alignment’, which was definitely Winter (ie dehydrated, jet lagged, from Northern climes). Therefore I needed a deep, rejuvenating Winter Massage (90 minutes) and cleansing mini facial (30 minutes).
My therapist, Wanwanach, then led me to my treatment room, which had its own chic changing area with a wardrobe and dressing table, as well as a shower and toilet. There were lotions to remove make-up, hairdryers and body lotions on the dressing table and shampoos and shower gels in the shower. There was also a wooden jewellery box where I could keep my necklace.
For the massage, Wanwanach used a Fire Oil with grapefruit to boost circulation. She began with a prayer, wafting rich, musky aroma oils under my nose, then started the treatment with an intense foot and head massage, smothering my feet in warm oil and foot socks to soften the skin. Having developed an addiction for Thai Massage during my trip, I asked for ‘strong’ pressure and was surprised by the power and stamina of Wanwanach’s touch. She pressed into my back with the weight of someone twice her size, pulled, twisted and stretched my aching muscles until they turned to syrup. It was a pretty energetic, sometimes challenging massage, yet I still managed to sink into deep relaxation halfway through. It was like having a gym workout in my sleep.
On my back and cosily cocooned in towels, savouring the warm buzz in my body created by the massage, Wanwanach began my mini-facial, massaging my face, cleansing and exfoliating, then applying a Papaya and Jojoba peel. She gave me another, gentler foot and leg massage as the peel dried, then removed it, and massaged in some rejuvenating cream. Afterwards, she adjusted the bed so I could get down easily, which was wise as my limbs were as soft as poured caramel.
Looking in the mirror afterwards, I almost didn’t recognise myself. My skin was young and glowing, my cheeks smooth and plump. As I relaxed with a lemongrass and honey tea, I felt really awake, ready to go on a mission (my daughter had given me instructions to track down a specific handbag). As the Elemental Herbology oils smelt and felt so wonderful, I opted to keep them on as I wafted around the swanky Siam shopping centre, feeling like a Goddess…
*If you are inspired by this experience, contact the Thai Tourist Board to arrange your own rural spa trip – be warned it’s not easy, even if you speak Thai! It is, however, a spa experience not to be missed.
You could also try these Thai-style spas closer to home: